Missives from and to the internet, delivered by a series of tubes.
Welcome, dear readers, to our Thursday feature – a letter column of horrors culled from our inboxes. There will be things that are real and decidedly unreal – but hopefully all content presented here will be entertaining.
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Letters might be edited for space, but not for intent.
Thank you, internet.
Brittanie (@britl) asks: Who would win in a fight: Garfield, Marmaduke or those kids from Family Circus?
James: The answer is very obviously Marmaduke, not just for size, but because his movie was more aggressively, hatefully terrible than anything the others have done. You can just tell he wants to end all happiness, and in a fight against idiots and sloths, that’s a pretty big advantage.
Brandon: Definitely Marmaduke. As anyone who has read Josh Fruhlinger’s daily recap of comic strips, I know that the only thing Marmaduke loves more than eating people, is being the demon monster king of the human race.
Britny continues: Unicorns: pretty great, or the greatest?
James: Um, actually, The Greatest is something else entirely. So clearly, unicorns can only be pretty great.
Brandon: Cat Power is The Greatest, Ben Folds is The Luckiest, and James Leask is The Dream Stompin-est.
Jay (@jayrunham asks): What makes you tear up like the Doctor in the rain?
James: Doctor Who itself. Or The West Wing. Seriously, pick an episode in the first two seasons of that, put it on a television and there is a 50-60% chance I will be crying by the end.
Brandon: Danica’s sexy punches. Also: sadness.
Jay continues: Would you rather kick a 3 foot-tall man or be kicked by a man with three feet?
James: I legitimately don’t know what this means. Is this a sex thing? Are you coming out about your fetish, Jay? Because this is a safe space. No judgment here. Shhh…shhh… it’s okay, big guy, you don’t have to be strong anymore. You can just admit that “kick” is a really weird metaphor. Shhhh… shhh…
Brandon: Does the three footed man have balance issues? Does he smell like peanut butter? I bet he smells like peanut butter. What was your question? I refuse to go back and read it on the grounds of shenanigans.
Jay goes on: Are you guys coffee drinkers?
James: I am absolutely a coffee drinker. I buy all my beans from artisan roaster (and current home of the best barista and latte in Canada, by competition) Transcend Coffee, and while I work up the courage to spend $150 to $300 on a new coffee maker, I currently grind my beans myself and use either a french press or the fancy new espresso machine I bought a couple of weeks ago.
I am a dude what likes his coffee.
Brandon: I recently had to wean myself off of daily coffee, because I would crash on the weekends pretty bad without it – thereby ruining my weekends. So now I drink coffee in more of a “break in case of emergency” deal.
Ryan (@bakpakit) asks: What is your opinion of the $20,000 spent by Alberta Tourism for the spot on The Bachelor?
James: Oh jeez man I didn’t expect things to get political. The answer is: I don’t know. I am generally against unnecessary fat in budgets, but the reality is that $20,000 for a trip by reality TV show competitors sounds really quite bad, but is really small potatoes in effect. Consider this: a recent expense claim scandal in the province’s health provider involving one person involved seventeen times the amount of money. I’m not saying the $20,000 is good, but it’s not as bad by comparison.
However, and this is where the focus of the site itself comes in, it makes for easy outrage because it’s an appealing news story to grab headlines. If there’s one thing people love to complain about regarding TV that’s not Two and a Half Men, it’s reality TV. As a result, “We gave money to that trash!” is built-in outrage when viewed without the context of the Ministry’s overall budget and what other line items for promotion cost. I’ve seen movies where they ran a major ad campaign for Travel Alberta during the pre-movie show, an expenditure that was almost certainly more expensive (it was a lengthy initiative by a major national chain) and of similarly questionable value (dudes in Canada already know about Alberta). It’s just not sexy and it doesn’t appeal to people’s existing hatred of television they don’t watch anyway.
So I guess what I am saying is that I’m really not that concerned about it.
Brandon: I deal with this by believing that 100% of my personal tax dollars helped fund the making of Hobo with a Shotgun. I will continue to do things like this because really, other than voting, I could give a shit about stuff and things? Especially in such a way that if I’m yelling about a show that I don’t watch because Alberta Tourism spent some duckets on it, I’m wasting valuable time that I could use for productive things. So short answer? Shrug.
Danica (@danicahere), Brandon’s much better half, asks: Will someone please tell Brandon he can’t answer a question I asked days ago in the middle of breakfast?
James: Finally, a real question!
Brandon, seriously. At least preface that motherfucker with the appropriate context and requisite apology for waiting so long. This is your partner here, you’ve gotta treat her right. Otherwise, you’ll wind up alone and increasingly blase about it like me.
Brandon: I am, at the best of times, barely functional for the first hour of a day. I regret NOTHING!
You guys, it’s time for another SCOTT WILLIAMS LIGHTNING ROUND!
Scott (@scottowiliams) asks: What is the best food?
James: I wish I could say something fancy here, but the truth is there are two answers, for meal and foodstuff.
Meal: Eastern North Carolina-style (i.e. vinegar-based mop) pulled pork, with a crisp honey coleslaw on top and some chips, salads and pickles on the side. Besides the fact that it smells heavenly and tastes delicious, it’s a great group meal. It’s basically impossible to cook without cooking at least 4 pounds of it, and it’s a great summer-y, picnic-y thing to share with friends.
Foodstuff: Cheese. I love it. I could somewhat easily go vegetarian, but I would have real trouble going vegan because cheese is unquestionably the greatest food there is. It can be soft and mild. It can he hard and salty. It can have maple syrup or toffee in it! There is such a variety of flavours and textures in it, and there really isn’t a single one I don’t like. It even makes apple pie better. I realized this summer that I have never once turned down cheese in my life, and I don’t ever plan on starting.
Brandon: Lamb. Probably because you can’t really get much of it in Canada for a decent price, and I love the taste.
Scott continues: What is the best place?
James: I love the ocean. Coming from a landlocked province, there’s always been something mysterious about the sea, and I take every chance I can get to be near it. A month ago, I swam in the Pacific for the first time in almost two decades, and it was a liberating, beautiful experience. I love the smell. I love the sights. I love the motion. I love the food. If I could move anywhere tomorrow, it would be to the West Coast, and I would stare at the ocean for as long and as frequently as I could get away with.
Brandon: I’m pretty fond of Newcastle, Australia. Stayed there once during my time in a marching band. Beautiful, enchanting place.
Scott inquires: What is the best name?
James: Alistair (men). Rachael (women). Kennedy (surname). Sorry, everybody else!
Brandon: Blade Stabworth.
Scott rambles: What is the best invention?
James: This is the easiest question. The answer, without any reservation, is the printing press. Moreso than any other invention, it made the modern era of the world possible. It made literacy something that wasn’t controlled by the upper classes, which created the very idea of upward mobility, a middle class and ultimately, modern government by the people. It changed the face of religion. It made communication and recording of ideas over long distances and periods of time possible, and was the precursor to every single form of mass entertainment that followed it. When I used to ask coworkers this, many people would say the greatest invention is the computer. They’re wrong; the computer, as amazing as it is, was only possible because the printing press opened the floodgates of literacy, politics, economics and media that the computer (and pretty much everything else in the modern world) used as its base. The printing press is the most incredible thing in mankind’s history, bar none.
Brandon: Anything that runs on the tears of orphans?
Scott asks, while pondering his terminal illness: What is the best idea?
James: See above (cheese, not the printing press).
Brandon: Buying a plot of land, building the front of a house (complete with porch) on that land, buying an old rocking chair, employing a make-up artist to make you look like an old man, and then sitting on the rocking chair, on the porch, in front of that front of a house, on top of that plot of land, so that you can yell at those fucking kids who have long boards.
Scott moans: What is the best thing to do?
James: The best thing to do is go to a baseball game on a hot summer afternoon, have a hot dog and a few beers and enjoy the company of whoever you’re with in the company of an amazing pastime.
Brandon: Not catch aaaalllllll the AIDS.
Scott wonders: What is the best way?
James: Usually by slandering Brandon.
Brandon: Scott, the road that we walk on is paved in gold. It’s always summer, they never get cold. They never get hungry. They never get old and grey.
Scott mumbles: Where do we go now? Where do we go? Where do we go now, ow ow ow, Sweet Child o Mine?
James: Down to wherever Duff McKagan and Buckethead collect their unemployment cheques.
That’s it for the twenty-third installment of Um, Actually! Check in every Thursday for a new batch of questions. If you have anything you’d like answered, hit up our Contact page! If you submit anything via Twitter – to @blogaboutcomics, @leask or @soupytoasterson – remember to include the hashtag #UMACTUALLY so that we don’t lose it. Remember: you can ask us anything.